Bloomberg, Yahoo, Crain’s and others are reporting that SeaWorld, the Orlando-based theme park and entertainment company famous for capturing Shamu and other killer whales and holding them in captivity, has offered to buy Cedar Fair for a cool $3.4 billion in cash.
Cedar Fair’s flagship property is Cedar Point in northern Ohio, but the company, which is headquartered in Sandusky, also owns and operates a number of other amusement parks (including Kings Island in Cincinnati), water parks and hotels.
Cedar Fair issued a meatless statement Tuesday confirming the existence of an offer and saying that it was taking advisement from its lawyers and accountants.
Both SeaWorld and Cedar Fair were hit hard by the pandemic, but CNBC reported that when news of the “takeover offer” was first reported by Bloomberg, Cedar Fair’s stock soared by more than 15%, closing at its highest level of the past year.
In northeast Ohio, there were two major stories emanating from America’s roller coast in the past year. The first was the park’s decision to dramatically increase wages for part-time staff. Cedar Point doubled its wages for seasonal workers, from $10 to $20 per hour, effectively ending its worker shortage as applicants poured in for the suddenly attractive jobs (It was one of the clearest indication that workers were happy to return to work if they were compensated fairly and treated humanely).
The second related story was that Cedar Point raised its daily ticket price to $85 this year, a $10 increase from the 2021 rates. Though few pay full-price when they go to Cedar Point—coupons and online discounts run rampant—the price hike was interpreted as a response to the economic stressors of the pandemic and the wage increases of the year before.
SeaWorld had a presence in Ohio from 1970 until 2000, at which point the Aurora location was overtaken by neighboring Six Flags (formerly Geauga Lake).
This story was originally published by CityBeat sister newspaper Cleveland Scene.
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